Disability Burnout is Real

Left unchecked, disability burnout can completely take over your life.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC


Authors note: Because of Medium’s refusal to address its accessibility issues for both authors and readers, I’ve moved my last three years of blogs to Substack. Please sign up there for notices of all new articles. Also, I will be updating older articles (like this one) and the updates will only be published on Substack. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Disability burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion caused by or made worse by a disability. Symptoms include:

  • feelings of exhaustion
  • inability or difficulty in focusing or prioritizing
  • exacerbation of one’s underlying health conditions
  • creation of new, co-morbid health conditions (clinical depression, for example, that accompanies a physical disability)

Disability burnout can involve a sense of reduced accomplishment and can also have a seriously detrimental effect an individual’s physical or mental health. It is an insidious condition that can happen slowly, over a long period of time. But the consequences can be life-altering, which is why it’s important to spot the signs of disability burnout early.

There are many ways disability burnout can occur. These are just a few, and is not intended to be a completely exhaustive list.

Overload Burnout

With overload burnout, an “overload” of something — hinders or blocks people from achieving their definition of success. People end up working harder and frantically to achieve their goals. Overload can come from several sources, including:

  • Work
  • Personal/family drama
  • Health problems

Trying to hide a disability

More than 70 % of disabilities are invisible. And those individuals have the option of trying to hide their status. Many choose to, especially in countries where there is a significant stigma and lack of legal protection for people with disabilities. But, hiding a disability comes with a price.



Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.